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Steve Sarowitz Addresses the Global Ethic Assembly

Steve Sarowitz addresses the Global Ethic in Action Assembly at the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, USA.

I’m so pleased to be here among my esteemed colleagues. Lewis, that was an amazing speech. Thank you. 

I stand here speaking at the Parliament of the World’s Religions, which in 1893 was the first mention–was the place where the first mention of Baháʼu’lláh was made in North America publicly. And what was said was this by Reverend Ford, who repeated the words of Baháʼu’lláh in 1893, “That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers, that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened, that diversity of religions should seize and differences of race be annulled. What harm is there in this? Yet so it shall be. These fruitless strife, these ruinous wars, shall pass away, and the most great peace shall come. Do not you in Europe need this also? Let not a man glory in this that he loves his country. Let him rather glory in this that he loves his kind.”

We’re gathered here today to promote unity and religion. Religion has so often throughout history been a source of hatred and division and strife. And the Baha‘i writings say that if that is so, it’s better to have no religion. And to leave such a religion would be truly a religious act. 

But I’m so pleased here to talk to so many people– and this is my third Parliament– who believe the opposite, that religion is a source of hope and unity for all humankind. You see, there’s no Jewish God. There’s no Christian God. There’s no Muslim God. There’s no Zoroastrian God. There’s not a Buddhist God. And there’s definitely not a Baha‘i God. There’s simply a God who has sent all the messengers, who sent Jesus, who sent Buddha, who sent Moses, and now has sent BBaháʼu’lláh to tell humanity to love each other. And there was never an asterisk about a person’s color or nation, gender, or the religion they were born into. 

Yet we’ve added those asterisks. And we don’t see each other as one human family. And this is the root of economic injustice. Because for those of us like me who’ve been fortunate to achieve material wealth, we don’t see others as our brothers and sisters. For if we did, there would be no more poverty. One of the tenets of the Baha‘i faith is the elimination of the extremes of wealth and poverty. A rich man cannot lie in his bed while knowing his brother is poor. His sister is poor. 

I stand before you today as a billionaire, someone who’s made a lot of money in business. There’s no pride in that, nor is there shame. There is shame, however, in not using that money for the betterment of humanity. So I call on all those who, like me, have achieved wealth to invest that wealth every day, using the tenets of their faith, like I do, to invest that wealth for the betterment of all of humanity. For we are all brothers and sisters. And that realization will change the world.

Baháʼu’lláh came. And he came with this message about the most great peace. He spent 40 years in the harshest conditions, two of the worst prisons in the world, the Black Pit and the prison in Akko, Israel. He started life as a nobleman. He didn’t have to do anything but live a life of luxury, but instead, he sacrificed his entire life to bring this message of peace and harmony to humanity. 

Isn’t it time we listened? Do we want a world divided by war? Even today, divided by religious war. Isn’t it time we thought about peace? Because war is still the most expensive thing on earth. What causes this poverty? Economic injustice? War is still the single biggest contributor.

When we realize we’re one human family when we realize that this message of Baháʼu’lláh that he brought to eliminate racism, to eliminate sexism, to eliminate nationalism, and to eliminate religious prejudice must be put in place. We will achieve peace and we will achieve economic justice. Thank you.

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